Ringgit Weakens for Second Day Before Fed Decision; Bonds Climb

Malaysia’s ringgit weakened, extending its retreat from a four-month high, before the outcome of a Federal Reserve meeting that may shed light on when U.S. monetary stimulus will be cut. Sovereign bonds rose.

The ringgit has gained 3.6 percent this month, the best performance among Asia’s most-traded 11 currencies, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Federal Open Market Committee concludes a two-day policy review today. The Fed will start paring its $85 billion of monthly bond purchases in March, according to analysts surveyed Oct. 17-18 by Bloomberg.

“We have the FOMC decision tonight and from that point of view, we’re probably seeing some positions that are profitable being taken off the table,” said Khoon Goh, a Singapore-based strategist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. “We have had some good gains in the ringgit.”

The ringgit weakened 0.1 percent to 3.1472 per dollar as of 5:14 p.m. in Kuala Lumpur, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It touched 3.1232 on Oct. 28, the strongest level since June 17. One-month implied volatility, a measure of expected moves in the exchange rate used to price options, was little changed at 7.82 percent.

The Malaysian currency rallied in October as the government announced a consumption tax and scrapped sugar subsidies in its 2014 budget to trim a fiscal shortfall it has run since 1998. The measures, which were unveiled Oct. 25, would be credit positive if fully implemented, although structural fiscal weaknesses and policy execution risks remain, Moody’s Investors Service analyst Christian de Guzman, who is based in Singapore, wrote in an Oct. 28 report.

Gross domestic product will increase 5 percent to 5.5 percent in 2014 from an estimated 4.5 percent to 5 percent in 2013, the finance ministry said in an Oct. 25 report. Malaysia’s economic growth must be sustainable and “fiscal consolidation is part and parcel of that,” Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters at a conference in London yesterday.

The yield on Malaysia’s 3.172 percent sovereign bonds due July 2016 fell two basis points, or 0.02 percentage point, to 3.11 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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